Cupbop is a Huge Trend in Utah

By Kangho Lee (Rupert)


There are many types of food trucks in Utah such as hotdog food trucks, dessert food trucks and hot wings food trucks. These food trucks can be found in the various places in Utah, and most seem to be running their businesses by only one vehicle. So I was surprised to see Cupbop’s food trucks spread all around the valley. I could see Cupbop food trucks wherever I go, so I started to investigate.

In turned out Cupbop is a thriving business which has total eight food trucks and four dine-in restaurants in Provo, Daybreak, Orem and Indonesia. Despite having brick-and-mortar locations, Cupbop appears to also have many more food trucks compared to other food trucks. I was very impressed about how famous Cupbop is since I have never seen any successful Korean cuisine business in the United States before. To investigate more information about Cupbop, I decided to go to their dine-in restaurant in Provo. It was very easy to realize the popularity of Cupbop in Provo because there were many customers to eat Cupbop even though it was late night. I decided to ask a question to one of the Cupbop customers.

“Excuse me sir, what makes you to come and eat Cupbop?”

“The sauce is great, and taste is great, so we come back every week” he answered.

I wondered if others were as hooked on it.

“Excuse me ma’am, what do you feel about Cupbop?” I asked a woman in the line.

“I am just happy to live in Utah where I can have Korean barbeque in a cup” she answered.

After I conducted some more spontaneous interviews while in line, I was rather hungry, so I ordered a Combo Mandoo and ate it as a dinner. It was so delicious compared to other Korean restaurants in Utah such as Myung-Ga.

After I was impressed from Cupbop tastes, I started to research a history of Cupbop food truck in Utah. Food truck was started in 2013 by three Korean international students in Utah, Junghun Song, Jongkun Kim and Jihyung Park. These founders of Cupbop wanted to spread Korean cuisine in the United States and they got an idea from Cupbop in Noryangjin (Seoul), Korea. Generally, most of Korean foods are called as slow food because it takes too much time to prepare a meal. Cupbop however, enables people to eat Korean food quickly since Cupbop in Noryangjin (Seoul), Korea was invented for students who wanted to eat large amount of food with less money and people who wanted to eat fancy food very quickly. Therefore, these Cupbop founders chose this item to sell in the United States to spread Korean cuisine quickly.

One day I had a chance to talk to one of founders of Cupbop, Junghun Song on the phone after I posted Cupbop food review on my blog. He contacted me through Facebook messenger to say thank you for my blog posting and he told me his number because he wanted to provide free Cupbop for me. So I called him to ask some question about his business.

“So why did you choose Cupbop from Noryangjin (Seoul), Korea to sell?” I asked

“You know, Cupbop in Noryangjin (Seoul), Korea is the best item to spread Korean cuisine to the United States. It is fast and easy to serve, delicious, and everyone likes it” he answered.

“I have eaten Cupbop in Korea several times and it was awesome. But, I thought that original Cupbop in Korea did not suit tastes of Americans, since it was too spicy and had strong scent. So what did you do to suit tastes of Americans?” I asked.

“We studied many times to suit American tastes and finally we found the secret recipe of Cupbop. Korean sticky rice goes to the bottom of Cupbop, crisp sliced lettuce goes above rice. These are the base of our Cupbop recipe. We chose to put crisp lettuce above rice because when Koreans eat meat and rice wrapped in lettuce.”

I think it was pretty nice idea to make people enjoy Korean cuisine because rice with lettuce gives very crisp and tasty texture while eating.

“Also we put Korean noodle called as ‘Jobchae’ above rice and lettuce for nutty taste, and chewy texture and put grilled pork, Bulgogi (Korean beef), and spicy chicken next to Jobchae. We made these three meats like home-cooked Korean meal, so it lets people experience Korean cuisine well through our Cupbop.” answered Junghun Song.

Since Cupbop founders just use Korean home-cooked food to prepare Cupbop, it sounds like there is no difference compared to the other Korean restaurants in the United States. But, once people taste it, they can find many differences in comparison such as food serving speed, Americanized taste, various sauce choices and unique ingredients.